"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Can Chess Improve Reading?

Can Chess Improve Reading?

Sent to USA Today, March 29, 2011

"Chess makes move into class" (March 29) asserts that a 1993 study showed that playing chess can improve academics. Not quite.

The study, "The Effect of Chess on Reading Scores: District Nine Chess Program Second Year Report" was published by the American Chess Foundation, and claimed that 53 students who voluntarily participated in a chess program in New York improved five percentiles in reading over the year (from the 58th percentile to the 63rd).

Nearly all the gains, however, were from six children who made unbelievable improvements, ranging from 38 to 66 percentiles. If we remove these outliers, the average gain for all 53 students is much less impressive, less than two percentiles. The case for chess, in other words, depends on unusual gains made by six children in one study done about 20 years ago.

I'm all for chess, but if we are interested in improving reading, let's do the obvious: Invest in libraries.

Stephen Krashen

Original article (different heading on online edition): http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2011-03-29-chesslady29_ST_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

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